As discussed here multiple times, between 1990 and 1993 — and with a floating broadcast time of between 6:25 and 9:30pm from series to series — DEF II’s Dance Energy show was extremely influential to me as a town-bound kid. It provided street style sections in cities far away as well as profiles on city capitals overseas, a well-lit look at that week’s trends on the crowd of dancers in the studio sections plus some great and terrible live PAs. Naturally, we took the ability to get a quick overview of the new and next things while sitting in front of the TV eating golden drummers and oven chips for granted until “yoof” TV in such a prominent place seemed to dry up. Superb UK rave and clubland archive resource Webm8 just upped several episodes and complications on YouTube. Hiroshi Fujiwara talking Tokyo hotspots circa 1992, a brief Major Force profile, lots of UK coverage, those legendary bootleg-looking Timberland leather jackets and Joey Starr and friends rapping Paris are just part of the rare footage on display here. Continue reading MORE ENERGY
After years of haplessly attempting to write and watch TV shows and films at the same time, the ascent of the podcast has been a godsend. A wealth of deep conversations on niche topics scattered with anecdotal diamonds and some necessary myth busting is the soundtrack to most of my afternoons and it’s notable that the sprawling length of some favourites like Drink Champs fires warning shots in the direction of those who demand that information be kept to pithy lengths. Those attention span deniers are a regressive bunch. Give me hours of meandering chats over condensed blocks of information any day. Mark Anthony Green and the New Yorker’s Matthew Trammell entered the arena recently with Rich Friend: the Elevated Conversation and the interesting choice of guests thus far has made it one of my favourites. The most recent episode with DJ Clark Kent is a break from the regular shoe-centric direction he’s taken in to showcase how smart he is — never a passive conversationalist, Clark has an interesting opinion on the state of rap and the state of the world right now, plus an insane level of history in the hip-hop industry harking back to when it was just a scattering of New York jams. Good guy, good hosts, good podcast.
It’s almost a never forgive action that I had no idea that ESPO and REAS’s one-minute Style Wars the Musical short (which, for a moment a while back, I thought was actually a trailer for a full off-Broadway musical) was online via its production company, ApK. This video (on a slightly faraway screen in the Street Market 2 recreation) was one of the highlights of a trip to the Art in the Streets show at MoCa LA back in 2011 — now I want to see a full version of Skeme and his mum’s big number. There have been a lot of magnificent tributes to this iconic documentary throughout the years, but this is one of the very best.
It looks like we’re getting a memoir by no less a legend than ‘Ram Jam’ Rodigan via Constable this March. David Rodigan MBE is a national treasure and, from a very brief interaction with him, a very decent chap (though his contract stipulated that he couldn’t be billed as “the Gentleman Rudeboy”. Somehow managing to keep it very real but also create wild onstage personas for clashes, how exactly he rose to international fame and find favour with a Jamaican audience who have zero chill if you don’t come correct is a story I’m keen to read when My Life in Reggae releases. That he had cameos in Doctor Who (and another scene boying off Sherlock Holmes) around the same time that he was hiding his craft with Kingston’s finest just adds to the mythos. Whether he’s entering the stage dressed as Elvis to unleash a Junior Reid Crank That dubplate, rocking a turban or having a Test Match theme skit lead into a Rodigan special take on Merciless’ Ole Gallis in NYC, that taste for the theatrical adds a manic extra dimension to his work. Long may he reign.
The internet just keeps spitting out gems. Kyle Lilly upped another chunk of NYC public access show Video Explosion’s coverage of a 1996 Vibe Magazine and Def Jam party. With DJ Finesse chatting with Mic Geronimo, Charles Oakley and the mighty DJ Red Alert (wearing this incredible Odd Squad promo t-shirt for a night out), plus (a grainy) umlaut-era Jaÿ-Z with Mary and Foxy live on stage (where did I leave my Nutty Professor cassette?), it captures a transitional point for hip-hop. Half a year later, Jay would command a very different status in the city.
Continuing the holiday theme on here, this four year old upload of some 26 year old footage needs some shine. The Video Music Box episode filmed from Elektra’s Hard to the Left release party — an incredible promo tape of the label’s future stars — was recorded in December 1990, and DJ Iran dug the raw footage out of storage. That footage included some unedited seasonal shoutouts that features a young Apache, Dante Ross, Clark Kent, Nikki D, De La, Funk Flex, Bönz Malone (looking very sharp), Zev Love X (aka. MF Doom) and his wife, plus many many more faces. Carhartt levels were extremely high and that Heavy D & The Boyz promo jacket is powerful, but keep your eyes peeled for some other excellent garments in that crowd. Salutes to Digital Hustle Films for that one.
I’d sooner not celebrate the fact that License to Ill came out 30 years ago yesterday, which means it’s 29 years since I read The S*n headlines about them getting up to all kinds of wild things during their 1987 UK tour wide-eyed, beginning a hero-worship that lasted just shy of three decades. It’s not that I’m not in awe of their work — it’s just that being reminded that things you have lucid memories of are that old is a scary reminder of your own mortality. One day you young ‘uns will be telling kids to shut up and listen to some real music, before cranking up Lil Yachty on some kind of futuristic device that, if their current creative stalemate continues, probably won’t be made by Apple. I wrote a little retrospective of what the Beastie Boys mean to retro footwear and streetwear for complex. You can read it right HERE or by clicking that image above.